The band’s name is The Blue Sunshine Family Band. They are from Santa Rosa, California. Now, go ahead and check out the beautiful and cool artwork by David Paul Seymour (also of various Wo Fat albums, Hendrix: Electric Ladyland (Redux), The Vintage Caravan, Ironaut, Doomstress and many others). Don’t listen to it yet though. Get a sound in your head that you think is going to fit. Thinking it is some sanctimonious, rehashed peace, love, rainbows and unicorns, hippie, acoustic crap? Maybe some weird, ethereal, atmospheric stuff with annoying, Far Eastern dissonance and sitars? A Pink Floyd tribute band maybe? No, no and, uh no. Said to have the “Heart of Metal. Mind of Jazz. Soul of Blues.”, The Blue Sunshine Family Band is a very heavy, fuzzy guitar based instrumental band that will simply blow your f’in mind!
Released just over a month ago, this self-titled, titan of a debut was recorded in February at Sharkbite Studios in Oakland, California with Zack Ohren (Suffocation, Fallujah, All Shall Perish, Decrepit Birth, Enigma and many others) “in one take, no stops, no edits, just one heavy jam session.” That’s right”, it’s one album/track/song that is just-shy-of fifty-two minutes long(!). For the sake of the CD, this protracted single is split into six movements: I through VI but is best listened to straight through, as it was recorded/intended because the breaks are just basically three second discontinuities of silence. They almost sound like skips on a record. My suggestion would be to buy the CD and/or the MP3s and string the “songs” together without space between the tracks. But I digress… Being done in one take also sets the stage for glitches that are thoughtfully left in place. Make no mistake, these are not mistakes or missteps because they do nothing but add to the honesty and musical direction TBSFB has chosen for themselves. Hell, the album would not be half of what it is if everything had not been left in. Frankly, growing up in the seventies and eighties, I, like many of you, am about sick and *expletive* tired of overproduced, studio “perfection”. Screw all of the auto-tuned, overly compressed, sterile garbage that comes to fruition more by a computer than by the actual musicians! Kevin, Billy, Matt and Quinten actually play their dueling guitars, bass and drums, respectively and a huge reason this album is so spectacularly good and special! Right now I can only think of a handful of bands that do this and they all rank among my current favorites.
That said, onto the music… With a wide range of musical influences being prominently displayed, The Blue Sunshine Family Band manage to electrify all of the senses and paint a musical mural of varying emotional moods through their extraordinary song writing skills and cumulative playing talents. Loosely staying on the path of very old-school Black Sabbath and taking sludgy Doom oriented queues, an ever-changing tempo and outrageous guitar riffage make this album come to life as a living, breathing feral animal. Heavily distorted rhythm guitars, balanced and solid drumming and bass playing that would fit nicely into any Jazz ensemble set the groundwork for heavy leads that range from slow and daunting to full-on, clean/semi-clean shred. Much of the time, meters are sped up and slowed down in a single musical idea that create a flow from start to finish while other times stuttering along as passages are rearranged to switch gears on a common musical concept used earlier in the song/album. Interesting that TBSFB generate this smooth flow throughout. At times, the listener would expect the brakes to be slammed down before heading in another direction, but it just never happens. Yes, there are plenty of unexpected twists and turns but not in a “roller-coaster” sense; more like a slow ride in the country where the natural landscape determines direction. A completely organic and cohesive effort, to be sure. Also a bit unusual is the use of clean bass playing. Since the music is bereft of vocalized lyrics, heavily distorted bass is often used to fill space, but TBSFB have gone 180 degrees the other way. With beautiful tone and licks to spare, the bass vacillates between following drum rhythms, playing lead just below the guitar or even as the lead instrument. Clever, unique and gently pushes the music in one direction or another. This could easily be overlooked, but is essential in the emotional and musical response an instrumental band needs to be able to illicit. Outside of Classical and Jazz, instrumental music can be a tough nut to crack and even tougher to get traction in the vast seas of music overload, so great attention must be paid to shine. The Blue Sunshine Family Band have truly excelled on this count. Injecting vocals into the mix would likely have taken more away from their desired response than they would have being added. Proof of the law of diminishing returns I suppose. Honestly, TBSFB added precisely what was needed and pulled back from any manner of excess, making it a spectacular album, much less a debut.
Digging the computer generated “music” that proliferates the sound-waves today? Well, you may want to take a pass on this album. TBSFB has nothing for you (and not likely to be reading this anyway!). If you are looking for something new, something unique, something memorable, something honest, something with a wide range of sound played by actual musicians that you can listen to over and over again; always picking up something you missed before, The Blue Sunshine Family Band is just what you have been looking for. The full stream is below. Listen to it and then, once hooked, support them and pick up a copy for yourself.